The day dawned gray and blustery — not ideal for fishing, but sadly par for the course when it comes to early season fishing outings — and I struggled to find and gather all the gear I’d need for my personal opening day of open-water season.
It’s often like that, I find. My best-laid plans from last fall, when I stashed all of my most important fishing equipment in the perfect places so that I’d be sure to find it all come spring, had led to a semi-frantic search through all of my favorite hiding spots, and sometimes, I came up empty.
The Orvis Battenkill fly reel with the floating line on it? Gone. Or at least, missing.
Not to worry. I’m sure I’ll find it again, sometime. Maybe come fall, when I’m performing a similar search for my deer-hunting equipment.
That’s how these first-of-the-season adventures go, I’ve learned. At least for me.
And I’ve learned to not let it get me down. Adjust. Adapt. Overcome. Or something like that.
An hour later than I’d planned, the truck was finally loaded, and I set off. My goal had been to head to the woods on a “social distancing adventure ,” adhering to all of the best advice during this decidedly odd time in our shared history.
That, I learned, wouldn’t be much of a problem. None of my fishing buddies — all of whom would have driven their own vehicles in order to avoid any possible cross-contamination — were available.
Real life invaded. So, instead, they’d let me handle the fishing on my own, and expect a report after I’d returned.
Undeterred, I headed to a familiar spot where a babbling brook dumps into one of the area’s most popular waters, Green Lake. Private, this spot isn’t. But accessible? You bet.
As I unloaded an ultralight rod and tied on a Super Duper lure, a delivery driver brought his truck to a halt and rolled down his window.
“Did you catch the big one?” he asked with a grin.
I was safely on the side of the road more than six feet away. I smiled back and admitted I was just getting started.
“I’m going to do the same thing as soon as I get out of work,” he said. “Someone’s gotta do it!”
I agreed, wished him luck, and headed to the lakeshore, where I spent a bit of time casting and retrieving the lure — and freezing.
A raw wind blew off the mostly iced-in lake, and I quickly grew tired of fruitless casts. Truth be told, I’ve never caught a fish at that spot, and there are only two reasons I return there, year after year.
First, because I know there will be ice-free water to cast into.
And second, because it reminds me of all the other times I’ve stopped and done the same thing.
On some of those days, sunny skies and light breezes have lured me to the water, while on other days, the simple allure of finally fishing open water after a long, icy winter has convinced me to ignore foul weather to make a few casts.
Whatever the case, each trip adds to the memories, for better or worse.
On this particular day, the weather got the better of me and forced me deeper into the woods.
After casting for a bit, I moved on, driving down a familiar dirt road to check on the family camp.
There, I learned that the winter had been a bit tougher than I would have hoped. A rotten tree had blown over and laid across the top of my small fishing boat, which I store in a clearing not far from camp.
Not that there was any open water in sight, mind you: My home lake was still socked in with solid-looking ice.
Cold and frustrated, I headed for home, vying to return another day and hike into the woods in search of trout. Maybe in a few weeks, when the alder leaves are as big as a mouse’s ear. That’s the perfect time to fish the brooks, old timers will tell you.
And maybe by that time, I’ll have found my favorite fly reel, too.
Fish safely. Have fun. See you on the water when things get back to normal.
John Holyoke can be reached at email@example.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, is published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.